Don’t be a baby
Ok…this post is really about being focused around your own personal responsibility for taking care of your health.
If you haven’t done that in the past, or are not used to it, then you should really try to get used to it, and figure out what that’s going to take.
As we age, our bodies obviously start to change, and we might not have our parents around any longer for advice.
For Men, especially, I think we’re used to having others help us with this topic, or make appointments for us, or nudge us to go
to the doctor and the dentist. If you want to live a long and healthy life, you need to fight like hell to get over that and take control of your own healthcare.
Docs need to make money too
I had my own brush with a medical emergency over 3 years ago. I wrote about it here, and it was the day I truly became ok with the
possibility of my own death. It’s a big hump to get over, but I think I came out on the other side better for it.
After that incident, a certain number on my blood work (hemoglobin) took a while to return to a normal level. That entire time frame for my blood to return to normal, took about a year and a half or a bit more.
One time it would be in an “ok range” another it would be slightly down. Each time there was anything askew with my blood work, my Doctor’s office would call me and say… “You need to come back in to discuss your blood work.”
Which totally freaked me out and sent me into a panic. They would not discuss anything on the phone or advise me without coming in for another visit and hence another co-pay of $40.
It’s not that I begrudge someone making their money, but going to the Doctor’s is usually a half-day affair. Between the delays after I get to the waiting room, or my travel time. (it’s not particularly convenient)
Most recently, bloodwork I had done in late January 2020 came back with a “blip”. Then COVID happened, and I couldn’t get an appointment with them. I just finally had that appointment the other day, and the number that I was worried about the entire time (my hemoglobin) was normal. However, my Triglycerides were in a “high normal” range. FOR SIX MONTHS, I worried myself that I was anemic or bleeding slowly, when it was really about something totally different. They could have resolved that with a 5 minute phone call.
It’s not my goal to gain sympathy here. My goal in relaying this story is that these things are going to pop up as we age. I grew up in an era when Doctor’s still made house calls and $20, pretty much took care of a visit for a couple of kids. Heck, my doc had a lot of basic meds right in his office and filled some things right there in small paper envelopes. People now have a much less personal relationship with their doctor. You need to get your mind right about that. Heck…I need to get MY mind right about that.
Some of the small things I’ve done over the years, and I can extrapolate those trends outward, I can see where this is going. It’s probably best to start with the following few things.
- Buy a fitness tracker that monitors Steps, Sleep and Heart rate.
- Get a digital scale that tracks your weight.
- Invest in a home blood pressure machine
- Focus on improving your diet, however slight it might be.
All of these items revolve around the concept of, “more information is better”.
In the name of brevity, I won’t go into the first three, but personally, I have been using all of them for at least 7 or 8 years, and I have almost daily data for each. I can easily cross reference events that were going on at the time, with a secondary source. (i.e. How much did I start to weigh when I noticed a change in my blood pressure?) My point here is this: Don’t just collect the data…use it! Figure it out. Read up on it. Read about how others are using it. I know some of the fitness trackers do a good job about doing that already. In fact Amazon has a new one out that doesn’t have a screen, to avoid distractions, but seems to have a pretty powerful reporting engine in the background.
And finally, we need to focus more, MUCH MORE, on diet. I really think diet is more important than exercise, because like they say…”you can’t out exercise a bad diet”. Plus, there will probably be times in your future, when you simply can’t move as much as you used to. A better diet will make those times a little easier to deal with.
I’ll be doing several more posts around how I’m improving my eating habits after 50, without beating a dead horse about anything too specific. Start with drinking less alcohol and eliminating Cap’n Crunch from your pantry, (like I did) and then we can build on that.
You should always seek medical advice when you need it and especially before changing your diet or exercise. Make sure you are armed with as much data as possible, with the longest history possible. The sooner you start collecting it, the better. You’ll be glad you did.